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  • Writer's pictureGregory Besterman

5 Music Venues To Visit In West Cork

Updated: Nov 30, 2023

Ah, the music of Ireland. There’s no better “Irish experience” than walking into a pub, preferably around three hundred years old at least, and finding a flautist, a fiddler, and a tin whistler playing a little tune in the corner. Whether it’s Arthur McBride, Black Velvet Band, or ol’ Danny Boy, the music of Ireland perfectly encapsulates the country it was made in.

A few unforgettable live music moments are the perfect accompaniment to a stay in our luxury West Cork property. And, who knows? Maybe you’ll be part of a moment that goes down in history – there at the beginning of a budding artist’s flourishing career.

First, however, you need to know where to look for it. In West Cork alone, there are several music venues where modern and traditional Irish music is played all night long – and yes, most of them will have Guinness on tap.

But what are these magical music venues? We’re going to take you through 5 of our favourites below, as well as a few words on their location and what they offer for the perfect Irish experience.

Connolly’s Of Leap

First on our list is a venue known as the Connolly’s Of Leap, which has a certified cult status in Leap. Located in the seemingly quiet village of Leap, Connolly’s Of Leap is anything but quiet. Having first opened its doors in 1958, the Connolly’s Of Leap has been offering great pizza, great drinks, and excellent music for decades now, and it’s a perfect destination to type into the sat nav if you’re yearning for a few tunes.

We recommend arriving early, however, as there are plenty of experiences to have in and around the village. One of the most popular attractions is just a few minutes south, a place known as the Drombeg Stone Circle. This is a quiet and eerie place with a mysterious past. With stones believed to be dated between 800 BC to 1100 BC, it’s the perfect destination for anyone interested in ancient runes and history, with a little slice of natural beauty on the side!

If you’re looking for things to do in West Cork, this one could be a great addition to your list.

Con And Maura’s Bar

This one urges more on the side of “bar” than “music venue”, but we’ve put it on here because of the music sessions hosted every Friday and Saturday night. Basically, if you’re a musician yourself, you can become the act of the evening! The venue allows anyone with an instrument to go up and give it a go, but in respect of your dear bar-mates, you should only go up there if you can play. The bar itself is beautiful and authentic, almost like something straight out of another era. There’s even an olde worlde “telefon” booth outside!

Once again, we’d recommend you head up early, especially if it’s a sunny day. Clonakilty is a seaside town, and Inchydoney Beach is one of Cork's most popular beaches. With a long stretch of golden sand and the Blue Flag waters to swim in, you can laze away on the beach for the day and spend the evening strumming a guitar in the Con And Maura’s Bar!

St. Matthews Baltimore

Okay, we don’t want to be too opinionated – we’d rather let you decide – but this one might take the top spot as our favourite venue in West Cork. St Matthew’s Baltimore is a music venue like no other. Not only is it also an active church, but by night, it turns into a live music haven! Having been built in 1819, it is a beloved spot by the seaside of Baltimore, with a number of shows taking on an ethereal sort of quality. Some of the most recent musical guests include The Kates, The Listeners, and John Spillane – all of which were sold out, demonstrating the huge popularity that the venue has in the local area.

There’s really something for everyone. For those who love to celebrate music, and wouldn’t mind a day in the beautiful town of Baltimore, then this is the venue for you. Whatever you choose, however, you’re sure to find a music venue of your liking while you’re in West Cork. And who knows, you might even bump into a few fiddlers playing in the corner of a bar. As ever in Ireland, you never know what you’re going to find!

DeBarra’s Folk Club

Another reason we suggest getting to Clonakilty early is you won't just be going to Con And Maura’s Bar that evening. If you want a truly folk experience, then visiting DeBarra’s Folk Club is an absolute must. This is considered one of the best music venues in Ireland, let alone West Cork.

In fact, according to Christie Moore, there’s the Royal Albert Hall, the Sydney Opera House, and then DeBarra’s. We wouldn’t disagree with that, either. For forty years, DeBarra’s has been putting on live folk music, filling the brilliant interior with beautiful – quintessentially Irish – sounds. Across the walls, there are hundreds of musical trinkets, including instruments like the banjo, the accordion, and what we’re pretty sure is a lute!

The Mariner

But we don’t want to keep you in one location for too long! Just twenty-five miles from Gortadrohid, Bantry is another town that is renowned for its traditions and friendly locals. It’s also home to The Mariner music venue, which hosts modern musicians taking their first steps in the industry. Recent musicians to have played there include Counterfeit, Dr Feelgood, Executive Decision, and The Blue Roses.

One of the best things about this place is the buzzing atmosphere. Of course, every bar and venue in Ireland will have a friendly atmosphere, but the people of Bantry are especially enthusiastic. For anyone who would like to explore Bantry too, we’d recommend visiting the stunning Bantry House and Gardens, or perhaps even the whale-watching experience off the coast of Bere Island!

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